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Poll: Free parking trial launched in Halesworth and Bungay in a bid to encourage more visitors

PUBLISHED: 09:31 02 October 2012

Free parking for one hour in Halesworth Town Centre.

Free parking for one hour in Halesworth Town Centre.

Archant © 2012

AN hours free parking is now available in some car parks in two north Suffolk market towns in a bid to encourage more visitors and boost local businesses.

It is hoped retailers and traders will reap the rewards of the trial scheme, which launched in Halesworth and Bungay yesterday.

All Waveney District Council run car parks in the two towns are now free for the first hour.

The scheme is initially planned to last for 12 months but if deemed successful it could be rolled out permanently.

Stephen Ardley, Waveney’s portfolio holder for operational partnerships, said:

“Clearly it is important that we receive sufficient revenue from our car parks to help with their upkeep and to improve the facilities we can offer anyone who parks in the town.

“However, this needs to be balanced against a need to encourage as many people as possible to come in to our towns and help boost the local economy by visiting and shopping there. Hopefully this fantastic offer will play its part.”

Suffolk Coastal MP Therese Coffey and Tony Goldson, who represents Halesworth on the district and county councils, were among those who called for the introduction of the scheme in Halesworth once they heard of the plan in Bungay.

Mr Goldson said he hoped it would prove successful.

“Despite the lure of bigger towns and cities we need to remind people why places like Halesworth have so much to offer and knowing that you can pop in to the town and park for up to an hour without paying could make a big difference,” he said. “This is a great scheme and just what the town needs.”

Rita Doughty, chair of Halesworth Town Centre Group, said it would be a welcome boost to the town.

“All we have are half a dozen car parking spaces free for an hour, so now there will be an hour in the town centre car park and I hope people take advantage of it,” she said. “We have been on and on about the free parking for months.”

Michelle Barker, chair of the Bungay Chamber of Commerce, added: “This scheme will provide a vital boost to Bungay and we really welcome the free parking offer.

“Bungay is a fantastic place to visit and to shop and the more we can do to encourage visitors, the better it will be for the town and our local economy.”

The decision to offer free parking for up to an hour was made by Waveney District Council’s cabinet in June as part of a number of car parking changes.

The Ring Go cashless payment scheme was introduced in Lowestoft car parks in April, allowing car park users to pay via their mobile phone.

Meanwhile, as of next month, the cost of parking permits for business and other users will also be reduced in a bid to encourage more people to visit towns across the district.

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